We reviewed and analyzed several studies and compiled the most important benefits of running. We ended up with a shortlist of 12 life-changing benefits.
The studies support that running 20-30 minutes a day can transform your body, mind, and soul.
Here are the benefits of running regularly:
- Running Improves Cardiovascular Health
- Running Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Running Lowers Your Blood Pressure
- Running Reduces Risk of Many Cancers
- Running Helps You Lose Weight
- Running Helps You Sleep Better
- Running Improves Your Immune System
- Running Lowers Risk of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
- Running Can Improve Your Knees and Back. It Helps With Arthritis
- Running Improves Cognitive Function and Reduces Cognitive Decline and Alzheimers
- Running Improves Mental Health and Reduces Depression
- Running Boosts Your Confidence and Self-esteem
These benefits can transform the way you perceive running. Keep reading.
12 Benefits of Running
The list of benefits of running can be extended to more than 12, however, we compiled the most significant for you. It covers includes mental, emotional, and physical benefits. Here are the key benefits of running.
Running Improves Cardiovascular Health
According to a study conducted by the American College of Cardiology, running regularly decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30%.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends every week 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise.
It is recommended to increase your workout load gradually and under the supervision of an experienced coach. If you feel any pain or discomfort, seek medical advice.
Running Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Running increases the blood circulation to the brain, and the part of the brain that responds to stress is affected. This causes a change that temporarily improves your reaction to stressful situations.
One study suggest that regular training reduces the activity of the serotonin receptors in the brain which regulates mood. Reduced sensitivity of these receptors to stimulation might explain the positive effects of exercise on anxiety.
Running Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Running lowers blood pressure by reducing blood vessel stiffness so blood can flow easier. Lower blood pressure can be more noticeable immediately after your training session.
In a study published in 2019, the author explains the effect of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) versus moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on arterial stiffness. Running may be considered as MICT, hence the positive impact on blood pressure.
A year earlier, a review article in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension concluded that both aerobic and strength training “elicited significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic BP.”
Running Reduces Risk of Many Cancers
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is strong evidence supporting that running or higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of several types of cancer, including.
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney (renal cell) cancer
- Stomach (gastric) cancer
In addition, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an “Original Investigation” into the association of leisure-time physical activity with a lower risk of cancer in 1.44 million adults. The authors concluded that runners or high-fitness exercisers had a lower risk for developing 26 different kinds of cancer than low- and non-exercisers.
Running Helps You Lose Weight
Running is an aerobic exercise used in cardiovascular training raising the heart rate levels. A higher heart rate can help to burn up to 650 calories in 30 minutes.
Losing weight comes down to burning more calories than your daily intake. To lose around 1lb per week, you will need to create a daily calorie deficit of approximately 500 calories per day.
Running must be combined with a healthy diet, proper sleep hygiene, and stress management. This will support your journey not only to lose weight but to keep it off.
Running Helps You Sleep Better
There is solid evidence that running or exercising improves sleep quality and may help you sleep more quickly. According to the medical team at John Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, there are a couple of things to consider if you want to use running to help you sleep better:
1. Timing of exercising: depending on how exercising affects your mind you should tune up the time for working out before going to bed. You should consider that:
Exercise helps the body to release endorphins. Work out at least 1 or 2 hours before sleep time to allow the endorphins levels to lower down.
Exercise raises the core body temperature. Elevation in core body temperature signals the body clock that it is time to be awake. Allow 30-90 minutes for the core body temperature to go down. The decline helps to facilitate falling asleep.
2. How much exercise: Historical records show that 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise makes a difference in sleep quality. The most important point is developing the habit.
Running Improves Your Immune System
Running is helpful to strengthen your immune system and fight off diseases. As exercising is one of the pillars of healthy living, running can contribute to general good health.
Other ways running supports a healthy immune system:
Increases bone density and decreases the risk of getting osteoporosis
Elevates body temperature and can help fight back infections
According to a publication from the New Your Times, during running at levels considered as ‘strenuous exercise’ such as a marathon, the immune cells boost their defense. The study concludes that ‘People should not be put off exercising for fear of it suppressing their immune system’.
Running Lowers Risk of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
Running as a type of aerobic exercise combined with resistance training help lower HbA1c values in people with diabetes. HbA1c is a blood test that is used to help diagnose and monitor people with diabetes. HbA1c refers to glucose and hemoglobin joined together (the hemoglobin is ’glycated’). Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. The amount of HbA1c formed is directly related to the amount of glucose in the blood.
A report published in 2019 followed more than 19,000 adults for more than 6 years, and compared rates of diabetes in runners vs. non-runners. Results demonstrate that the runners had a 72 percent lower rate of diabetes development. The researchers concluded: “Participating in leisure-time running is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adults.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, aerobic exercise like running can: 1) Prevent or reduce Type 2 diabetes (90%–95% of cases); and 2) Benefit those with Type 1 diabetes (5%–10% of cases). It can also prevent those with pre-diabetes from developing full-fledged Type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is diagnosed when blood glucose levels are above the normal range but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Running Can Improve Your Knees and Back. It Helps With Arthritis
Running is potentially beneficial to those experiencing mild knee or back pain. Researches demonstrate that running is not associated with increasing knee or back pain. However, bad form, lack of strength, and incorrect shoes may have an impact on potential injuries and discomfort.
Running with the correct form can strengthen your knees and lower back. It is advised to begin with low intensity and gradually increase the distance and speed of your training. It is highly recommended to take a gait analysis to assess and improve your form.
Running is beneficial to the joints and improves arthritis. A regular running routine compresses and releases the cartilage in your knees, helping circulate synovial fluid that brings oxygen and nourishes your joints, and removes inflammatory waste products.
Running Improves Cognitive Function and Reduces Cognitive Decline and Alzheimers
Running can increase brain activity and executive function such as attention, planning, memory, organization, and impulse control. Also, the mechanical impact of running increases blood circulation benefiting brain activity.
Studies show a correlation between higher levels of physical activity and a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Regular runners are less likely to experience a decline in mental functions and have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
There is no restriction in the amount of running when it comes to prevention of cognitive decline or improvement of cognitive function. The more you run, the better your chances to prevent cognitive function diseases. Run a lot!
Running Improves Mental Health and Reduces Depression
When you are running the body releases endorphins that give a euphoric state while exercising. This is commonly known as ‘runner’s high’.
After running there is a relaxed ‘post-run’ sensation caused by endocannabinoids – a biochemical substance naturally produced by the body. Exercising increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream reducing anxiety and depression.
Different studies from renowned institutions worldwide provide evidence of the positive implications of running for mental health, particularly depression.
Running Boosts Your Confidence and Self-esteem
When you finish a long run you have that sensation of achievement; similarly when you are following a training plan and see the improvement week to week. Your body stands longer and faster runs over time. The impact on your self-esteem and confidence is amazing!
Setting higher goals in your running routine will help you improve your confidence. Also, improving your memory through running has a big impact on your confidence in other areas of your life.
Running outdoors and being in contact with nature will help you to feel more balanced emotionally and mentally. Being in balance boosts your confidence dramatically.
What Do You Need to Know Before Starting Running?
- Choose the right running shoes
- Get the right clothes (winter or summer?)
- Are you running indoors or outdoor? How to use a treadmill
- Get adequate hydration
- For intermediate runners a training plan will help if you are training to run a specific distance or preparing for a race
How to Start Running for Beginners?
- Start With Walking
- Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
- Get Fitted Shoes
- Follow a Plan
- Give Your Body a Break
Should I Run Every Day?
Running every day may have some health benefits. Studies show that running just 5 to 10 minutes each day at a moderate pace may help reduce your risk of death from heart attacks, strokes, and other common diseases.
How many days it’s safe for you to run each week depends on your goals and physical fitness levels. Scheduling days for cross-training, strength training, and rest should be part of your training plan. They may make you a stronger and healthier runner overall.
Is it Safe to Run Every Day?
You can run every day as long as you are not overloading your body. Overload injuries result from taking on too much physical activity, too fast, and not allowing the body to adjust. Or they can result from technique errors, such as running with poor form and overloading certain muscles.
To avoid an overload injury:
- Choose appropriate running shoes and change out your shoes often.
- Gradually increase the distance each week.
- Include some cross-training, such as cycling or swimming.
- Warm-up before you run and stretch after.
Run with proper form. If you experience a running injury, stop training and seek medical advise. RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) may help with your recovery.
Do You Need Other Exercise?
Cross-training, or training with another form of exercise other than running, may be beneficial to runners. Some potential benefits include:
- reduces the risk of injury
- engages different muscle groups
- increases flexibility and core strength
- aids injury recovery without compromising fitness level
If running is your main form of exercise, consider cross-training one to two times a week. You should consider adding anaerobic activities such as strength training and weights into your routine one to two times a week.
How to Run Every Day
Keep in mind:
- Training plan
- Warm-up and Stretching
Now that you know the amazing benefits for running, it is time for you to lace up your running shoes and hit the road. Check out our guide on How to start running for beginners and How to train for a 10k run.